Cyanogenic Compounds as Systematic Markers in Tracheophyta

  • Robert Hegnauer
Part of the Plant Systematics and Evolution / Entwicklungsgeschichte und Systematik der Pflanzen book series (SYSTEMATICS, volume 1)


A short chronological review of cyanogenesis (Fig. 1) in vascular plants is given (Table 1). Subsequently the chemistry (Tables 2–4; Fig. 2) and biochemistry (Figs. 3–9) of cyanogenic plant constituents are summarized. Five biogenetical groups (A-E) of cyanogenetic compounds are presently known from vascular plants. The occurrence and function (Fig. 10) of cyanogenesis is sketched and causes of conflicting statements in phytochemical literature are briefly discussed. Finally the presently known distribution of the different pathways, and the resulting constituents, as well as of still unidentified cyanogenic compounds, is given. The paper ends with a short systematic appreciation of cyanogenesis as a systematic marker at higher categories. The differences between Pteridophyta, Gymnospermae and Angiospermae and the similarities between Liliopsida and the magnoliid and ranunculid part of Magnoliopsida are stressed and the uniformity of Passiflorales, including Flacourtiaceae as well as the heterogeneity of Rosaceae are outlined and discussed from the taxonomic point of view.


Vascular Plant Systematic Marker Glyoxylic Acid Cyanogenic Glycoside Plant Constituent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Butler, G. W., 1969: Metabolism of cyanoglucosides, mustard-oil glycosides and selenium-containing compounds in plants. Proc. Roy. Australian Chem. Inst. 36, 65–70.Google Scholar
  2. Conn E. E., 1969: Cyanogenic glycosides. Agric. Food Chem. 17, 519–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Conn E. E., 1973: Biosynthesis of cyanogenic glycosides. Biochem. Soc. Symp. 38, 277–302.Google Scholar
  4. Dillemann G., 1958: Composés cyanogénétiques. In: Handbuch der Pflanzenphysiologie (Ruhland, W., et al., eds.), Band VIII (redigiert von Mothes, K.), 1050–1075. Berlin-Göttingen-Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  5. Eyjolfsson, R., 1970: Recent advances in the chemistry of cyanogenic glycosides. Fortschr. Chem. Org. Naturstoffe 28, 74–108.Google Scholar
  6. Fikenscher, Lucie H., and Hegnauer, R., 1977: Die Verbreitung der Blausäure bei den Cormophyten. 11. Mitteilung. Über die cyanogenen Verbindungen bei einigen Compositae, bei den Oliniaceae und in der Rutaceen-Gattung Zieria. Pharm. Weekblad 112, 11–20.Google Scholar
  7. Flückiger, F. A., 1883: Pharmakognosie des Pflanzenreiches, 2. Aufl. Berlin: R. Gaertner’s Verlagsbuchhandlung.Google Scholar
  8. Gewitz, H.-S., et al., 1974: Presence of HCN in Chlorella vulgaris and its possible role in controlling the reduction of nitrate. Nature 249, 79–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gibbs, R. D., 1974: Chemotaxonomy of Flowering Plants, 4 volumes. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Hegnauer, R., 1960: Die systematische Bedeutung des Blausäuremerkmales. Pharm. Zentralhalle 99, 322–329.Google Scholar
  11. Hegnauer, R., 1962–1973a: Chemotaxönomie der Pflanzen, Bände 1–6. Basel-Stuttgart: Birkhäuser Verlag (Systematic distribution of cyanogenesis and cyanogenic constituents; consult the heading Cyanogenese in indices).Google Scholar
  12. Hegnauer, R., 1971: Pflanzenstoffe und Pflanzensystematik. Naturwissenschaften 58, 585–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hegnauer R., 1973b: Die Verbreitung der Blausäure bei den Cormophyten. 10. Mitteilung. Die cyanogenen Verbindungen der Liliatae und Magnoliatae-Magnoliidae: Zur systematischen Bedeutung des Merkmals der Cyanogenese. Biochemical Systematics 1, 191–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jones, D. A., 1972: Cyanogenic glucosides and their function. In: Phyto-chemical Ecology (arborne, J. B., ed.), 103–124. London-New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  15. Jones, D. A., 1973: Co-evolution and cyanogenesis. In: Taxonomy and Ecology (Heywood, V. H., ed.), 213–242. London-New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  16. Nahrstedt, A., 1973: Cyanogene Glykoside in höheren Pflanzen. Pharmazie in unserer Zeit 2, 147–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nahrstedt, A., 1976: Ein neues Cyanogenes Glykosid aus Sorbaria arborea (Rosaceae). Z. Naturforsch. 31 C, 397–400.Google Scholar
  18. Rosenthaler, L., 1923: Zur Prüfung der Treubschen Hypothese. Bio-chem. Z. 134, 215–224.Google Scholar
  19. Seioler, D. S., 1975: Isolation and characterization of naturally occurring cyanogenic compounds. Phytochemistry 14, 9–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schütte, H. R., 1973: Biosynthese von cyanogenen Glykosiden und Senf-ölglucosiden. Fortschr. der Botanik 35, 103–119.Google Scholar
  21. Takhtajan, A., 1973: Evolution und Ausbreitung der Blütenpflanzen. Jena: VEB Gustav Fischer Verlag.Google Scholar
  22. Tapper, B. A., and MacDonald, M. A., 1974: Cyanogenic compounds in cultures of a psychrophilic basidiomycete (snow mold). Canad. J. Microbiol. 20, 563–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tapper, B. A., and Reay, P. F., 1973: Cyanogenic glucosides and glucosinolates (mustard oil glycosides). In: Chemistry and Biochemistry of Herbage (Butler, G. W., and Bailey, R. W., eds.), Vol. 1, 447–476. London-New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  24. Tschiersch, B., 1967: Blausäure und Blausäureglykoside, eine Übersicht. Pharmazie 22, 76–82.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Hegnauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorium voor Experimentele PlantensystematiekUniversity of LeidenLeidenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations